polar free watch strap

Make Every Run Great

Shop our full collection of Running Watches now!

Shop Now

What is a running watch?

Running watches fit on your wrist and tell the time like a normal watch, but all the watches on this list will also do at least the following two major things. Using GPS they can track your movement, and they can also measure your heart rate. With these two details they can create an array of data to help encourage, motivate, and plan your runs as well as measure your improvements.

 

What is GPS and why do I want it on a watch?

GPS or Global Positioning Satellites let your watch track your movements back down on earth. By tracking you on your run you can measure distance ran, speed, improvements over time and even compare yourselves to other runners.

 

Why do the prices vary so much?

Ranging from £169 to £900 on this list alone, the price of running watches varies wildly, and with a seemingly bewildering number of features on each watch, it can be tricky to work out what you are paying for, and which watch is the best for you.

Everything about the watch can change as the price goes up, the physical watch can go from lightweight and minimalistic, to using heavy duty, shock, thermal, and water-resistant outers.

From using outer buttons only, they can also have touch screens, and even screens that act as solar panels to prolong the battery life. Some can also act as smart watches, answering your phone and showing you text messages on screen.

Some top end watches will have more ways of measuring your health, more built-in apps and software to help you organise your fitness and plan your workouts.

Another important feature that can improve as the price rises is the memory. In some mid-range watches, you can download tracks to listen to on your run without having to take your phone, but at the top end you can store many more songs, alongside colour maps to make sure you find your way home.

top running watches
top running watches

How do you choose a sports watch?

Features that may be completely unnecessary for your local parkrun, can quickly become essential for an all-day wild run through your nearest national park, or a weekend hiking in the highlands.

You will have to decide which features best suit your fitness lifestyle, and luckily you have this handy guide to help you.

 

Is it worth paying out for a Running Watch?

With apps like Strava available for free on your phone it can be tempting to stick with what you know, but the freedom of leaving your phone behind can be a big draw for some.

Quite apart from the obvious physical benefits of not carrying your phone, you can also get so much more information from a running watch. Combining GPS data with Heart rate monitoring can give an incredible amount of data about your fitness, as well as the ability to compare your runs to show improvements.

In some of the more expensive watches you can measure your health 24/7, including sleep patterns, giving you more data about your health and letting you build a training plan around it.

If your still not keen on ditching Strava, many of the watches here will sync to your favourite social media and tracking app accounts anyway.

 

What is the best running watch for beginners?

As obvious as it sounds, the more affordable options will suit beginners best. Options like the Polar Pacer, or Corus Pace 2, offer all the data and options you will need when beginning your journey, while not breaking the bank.


What is the best running watch for mid-level?

The Polar Pacer Pro, Garmin 255 and 255 music as well as the Garmin Instinct 2 Solar offer improved usability, and this is the range where you start to find enough memory to store music.  More sensors and trackers offer more information to help you get your training right. They can also act as smart watches.

 

What is the best running watch for top end adventures?

The Garmin Forerunner 955 solar, Fenix 7 Sapphire Solar, Fenix 7X Sapphire Solar and the Epix 2 find room to shine at this level. Designed to keep your training on track anywhere from mountainsides to boardrooms, they can offer 24/7 health monitoring, more accurate location services, and so many individual features it would be impossible to cover them all here.

Our Top 10 Picks:

There you have it, ten of the best running watches on the market, but don’t forget to check out our full range to find the perfect piece of wearable tech for your needs.

Stay tuned to our social channels for more insight from the running industries most exciting brands and to stay up -to-date with the latest and greatest running shoe releases. You can find us at:

 

► Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/prodirectrunning/
► Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/prodirectrunning/
► Twitter: https://twitter.com/ProD_Running
► Strava: https://www.strava.com/clubs/prodirectrunclub
► YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/prodirectrunning

Ray Barlow

Having suffered from Chronic Fatigue for over a decade, I am a recent convert to the joys of running. Although every run steals a lot of energy, the mental health and fitness benefits more than make up for it. My runs are mainly across the back of the nearby beaches, dodging between the tourists. When not geeking out over the latest running tech, you can find me trying new gins, making gins, or boring anyone within earshot about gin.
Read All Articles
polar pacer

Make Every Run Great

Shop our full collection of Running Watches now!

Shop Now